Dealing With Change: 4 Lessons I Learned The Hard Way

By Ben Ramsden – Senior Transformation Consultant

Ever heard of someone losing their lifetime’s computer data in a hard disk crash?

Yeah well, it happened to me recently. And I was surprised how this particular dark episode reminded me of some key lessons about dealing with forced change.

The dark day my hard disk died

I was initially (reasonably) relaxed about the expiry of my computer drive because I had two backups. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, neither of them could be restored.

For a split second I found myself at the brink of having a very unattractive, major meltdown. But then I paused, drew breath, paused, breathed again, and noticed something quite remarkable.

The world hadn’t ended. The sun was still shining outside. I still appeared to be fit and healthy.

I finished work early that day and spent more time than usual with the family (very nice. I also had a very good night’s sleep.

The following morning, I went out and purchased a new computer from a different manufacturer containing a tried and tested backup solution, and started afresh.

This new computer came with much better software. It has allowed me to do things quickly and easily that I had always wanted to but never thought possible.

I should have upgraded years ago, I thought.

Then a couple of weeks later, a very clever technician managed to extract all my lost data from the damaged drive. But the funny thing is, I’ve barely needed it since!

What I learned about change in the process

So what lessons did this incident remind me of when it comes to dealing with forced change?

1. Emotional reactions are just that

No matter what it is that happens to thrust change upon you, know this: the world will not end.

This simple reminder can help you shift your mindset from a state of extreme stress to one of control and calm. You control your emotions, not the other way around.

2. Adversity contains hidden opportunities

If my computer drive hadn’t crashed and burned, I would still be slogging away with an outdated and sub-standard computer system.

There is always something to learn from change and, a lot of the time, it’s just the kick in the pants we need.

3. Behaviour in the moment is all that matters

Look forward not back. Ask “what next”, not “why”.

4. Comfort feels good but has limited value

We all get stuck in ruts or habitual patterns of behaviour. I knew there were probably more efficient and effective solutions available than my dinosaur computer, but I didn’t act until I had to.

The whole experience has been a timely reminder to examine other areas of my life that have become “comfortable”, to challenge myself out of my comfort zone.

What are your experiences of dealing with forced change and what did you learn?